What to tell your school districts about autism and violence

Dear Readers,

My friend Jill, who writes at Yeah. Good Times. has given all of us a tremendous gift.  In response to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, she has written a brilliant letter explaining autism to her local school district and she has invited us to share it.

Jill’s entire post can be found here.

In the meantime, I feel so passionately about distributing this information to every teacher, counselor, parent, family, human being that I’m re-posting the entire letter below (with permission from Jill of course!)

Please, please, please share this.  Don’t do it for my Alex, don’t do it just for your kid or neighbor or student.  Do it for ALL kids everywhere.  Because every step toward greater understanding is a step toward peace.

Thanks for reading,

Cathy K.

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Dear (school) community:

There has been much discussion online and in the news about the connection between the Connecticut school shooting and the fact that the shooter may have been diagnosed with autism.  As our families and our community discuss this issue and try to find a reason for this heartbreaking tragedy, I feel that it is very important to remember the following:

There is no connection between planned, violent behavior and an autism spectrum diagnosis of any kind.

Autism is not a mental illness; it is a developmental disability.  Many autistic people may have emotional regulation problems, which are impulsive expressions of frustration and anger, that are immediate and disorganized.  They may lash out with threatening statements or behaviors, but these behaviors are impulsive reactions, they are not deliberate or organized plans.  Once the situation has been diffused, the behaviors will stop.

What happened in Connecticut required methodical planning of a deliberate and tremendously violent act; this is not typical behavior of an autistic person.

Right now we are all struggling to find a reason why this kind of atrocity would happen, and we can speculate about the mental state of the shooter; about gun control laws; about the current state of our country’s mental health system, or about whatever else might help us make some sense out of this.

Please know, and please tell your children, that even if the shooter was autistic, autism is not the explanation for this tragedy.

If anybody has any questions about autism, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thank you very much for your time,

Your name here

:~) Quote for the Moment (~:

autismhomerescue11241101“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face… do the thing you think you cannot do.”

~Eleanor Roosevelt

For women in challenging circumstances ~
It’s okay to begin again ~
 
 

Please feel free to message me, too!

 double koru
 
 

for all mothers in less-than-ideal relationship situations

Some days I just feel compelled to throw out an entry in what I call my “required reading” category.  Today’s topic:

D.O.M.E.S.T.I.C   V.I.O.L.E.N.C.E

Big, bad, ugly words.  We like to think that those words don’t apply to us or to people we love because big, bad, ugly things happen in other families, right?  It feels better to believe– on this side of things– that we are somehow protected from crazy or impossible situations that we see happen to other people out there in the world.  If we thought “that could happen to us” every time we watched the news, then we’d be too fearful and anxious to survive daily life.  Makes sense to me.

Still, there are many, many people around us who are in difficult, destructive or dangerous situations.  Some are aware of their circumstances, their resources and their options.  But many are not. 

Because I am a woman and a mother, I’ve decided to address this post specifically to other women like me.  But domestic violence can happen to anyone, male or female, single or married, gay or straight.  Please be aware that although I’m writing woman-to-woman here in the interest of simple readability, whatever situation you– or your loved ones– may find yourself in, there are resources for you too. 

Here’s the truth about domestic violence in the United States: 

One in four women in the U.S. will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes.  It takes the average woman 7 times to leave an abusive situation.  Domestic violence affects women from all walks of life, all education levels, all socioeconomic backgrounds, all races, religions and sexual orientations.  It affects parents of typical kids and parents of kids with special needs. 

See:  The National Coalition on Domestic Violence (NCADV) fact sheet here.

Domestic violence is not just physical.  When one person exerts control over another, when someone is  threatened or harrassed or isolated from friends, when one person in a relationship controls all the money in the bank account, for example, or won’t let the other person leave the house when they want to, that’s domestic violence too.  Just because nobody physically harmed you, doesn’t mean harm hasn’t been done.

See:  Information from NCADV on psychological abuse here.

 

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Over the years, both personally and professionally, I have encountered many helpful mantras for coping with less-than-ideal relationship situations.  I share some of them with you here in the hopes that if you find yourself needing encouragement or wanting to help a loved one, something may resonate with you and encourage positive outcomes.
 
  • In healthy relationships, people don’t get punished for being who they are.
  • Just because someone yells and screams or makes statements in a loud, authoritative voice, it doesn’t mean they are right or that they are telling the truth.
  • Just because someone says, “This is the way it is!” does not mean it has to be that way.
  • When someone is being mean or abusive and telling you it is your fault they are angry, it is not your fault.  No matter what you do, you cannot control their behavior or reactions.  Even if you do “everything right” they may still be angry because their anger has to do with *them* not with *you*
  • Children are smart.  They know who really loves them, who has it together and who doesn’t.  No matter what someone else tells them about you, if you take a deep breath and focus on being the best parent you can be (and not feeding into the negativity coming from an abusive person), your kids will know what’s true.
 
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If you suspect a child or teenager is being abused or mistreated, call 1-800-4-A-CHILD or go to the Child Help website.

To find domestic violence resources (including shelters if you are in danger or support groups if you are concerned) in your state, click here or visit the Feminist Majority Foundation.

If you are seeking LGBT resources for domestic violence, click here for the Rainbow DV page devoted to information, links and support groups.

Local hospitals or women’s centers often have free counseling and/or support groups for women who have been victims of domestic violence.

Other helpful websites:

Eve Foundation: Ending Violence Everywhere

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) will connect you to safety resources in your area.

If you or someone you love is in a less-than-ideal relationship situation, there is hope for things to get better.  Please reach out for help, you are not alone.

Portia%20Nelson

:~) Quote for the Moment (~:

autismhomerescue11241101

In any moment, we can take refuge in awareness & love. When we get lost, we need only pause, relax open to what is Here & re-arrive in the natural presence that is our true home.      ~Tara Brach

How to meditate (remember to breathe!)

bigger, better, even more wonderful!

abundance of purple flowers

I am bursting with gratitude today and I have some exciting news to share!  Autism Home Rescue is expanding and we’ve connected with some awesomely inspiring writers who’ll be sharing their thoughts and insights right here on this very page.  Pretty nifty, eh?

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Stay tuned for our first-ever guest post on Tuesday 

by Caroline McGraw from A Wish Come Clear

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One of the greatest joys I’ve experienced since beginning this blog is the opportunity to connect and dialogue with other parents, professionals, caregivers and new friends.  This online community has not only given me hope when I’ve most needed it, but your stories, insights, support, humor and encouragement have sent good karma ripples out into the world and have helped countless other families like mine.  And as always, I am oh-so-grateful to you!

Caroline McGraw has a unique perspective on special needs and autism, and a gift for bringing the truth to light in her work.  Please stop back next week to read her very special post.

All best wishes for a peaceful weekend!

manifesting

Today’s Gratitude List

manifesting

Today I am grateful for:

  • Being aware of the moment.  I recently moved into a new house (expanded post to follow) and just last week I framed an old calendar page for my kitchen.  The page is a beautiful drawing of a fish pond with this Thich Nhat Hanh quote: “Our true home is in the present moment.  To live in the present moment is a miracle.”  The moment may not always feel good, but at least I know that I am in it.
  • Safe spaces.  Sometimes when Alex is going through a rough time, I have trouble finding the safe spaces in my life where I can calmly, rationally, logically think through the puzzles and find the next step toward the solutions.  My boy and I have had it rough the last couple months (expanded post to follow) but I think now we are working through it.  And I am grateful for the people and places in my life that help me calm my mind and inspire me to try again.
  • My readers & fellow bloggers.  Who knows who you all are, but I am continually amazed to find you sharing your thoughts or reaching out at the most uncanny times.  It is easy to write when life is good, simple, fun– or even completely ridiculous, distracting and crazy.  But when the challenges mount I often hesitate to put it all out there (expanded post to follow).   Yesterday I read the first part of the prologue to Big Daddy’s new book.  Funny, funny guy, that Big Daddy.  The fact that someone who makes me laugh so much could also write so candidly about the realities, joys and challenges of autism…. well, that was just inspiring to me.  I am grateful for all of you who share your real experience– because it reminds me that no matter what, we’re all in this together, and what we write and throw out into cyberspace does make a difference.  

What are you grateful for today?

Required reading…

required reading

… for anyone who wants to explain autism to kids.

While brainstorming social skills resources with a co-worker today, I came across this brilliant blog post again.  Whatever the award is for authoring the most creative, empowering, right-on-target-get-the-job-done lesson for kids on how to understand autism, this amazing writer should get it.

The blog is “MOM – Not Otherwise Specified.” (see the nifty blog roll down to your right)  The post is “A Hair-Dryer Kid in a Toaster-Brained World.”  Please read it, take it in and share it.  If you know and love a kid– any kid, on the spectrum or typical, a relative or neighbor, or even the kid in you–  I promise you will smile after reading this.  Positively impacting the lives of children is a beautiful thing!